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Arguably the best EmailRadio yet, the chat room was very active and the guests were consistently relevant & interesting. At some points I really struggled to keep up with both of them!
Before I elaborate on the gravy, there was a small technical hitch at the start where we lost Bill and I think Jeff for a bit. Of course both Jim and Jeff, the consummate professionals that they are handled it admirably while the chat room took the piss:
remybergsma: allright, which shark is gnawing on those transatlantic lines?
jordievanrijn: Well, lets change seat rows here on the titanic
MarkatEMR: radio’s dead -email killed radio!
On the show was ‘Mr Influential’ Bill McCloskey: as well as the good stuff on his clickz profile Bill is all about the Monitoring and has the largest email archive in the world collected over the last 7 emails, which is then mined for information and trends. He’s been in the biz for a long time and in fact was one of the first people to coin the phrase “rich media”.
Also on the show was “Dr.” Mark Brownlow of Email-Marketing-Reports: who as well as consistently telling us everything we need to know about email lectures on specialist communication and a bit of email etiquette.
Mark began with a run through of the key mentality to adopt when writing on-line content: Online copy is not like the essays we had to write an university. You need to keep it in short, punchy easily digestible pieces. Also you can start sentences with an ‘and’ and a ‘but’ if it helps break the paragraph up – “you don’t need to go back to grammar school”.
In my opinion Mark is bang on the money, one thing that the success of micro-blogging has shown us is the tiny attention span of the masses. Too much ‘blurb’ and people will switch off.
Of course you still have those who want elaboration and detail – this is where you have the email teaser and the click through to the elaboration, then the web copy while it still needs to have that punch must fit in the detail.
So you end up with each piece having three parts:
- a subject line – to grab the attention to help the reader decide it’s relevance;
- an intro paragraph or two – this is the punchy bit where you can deliver the juicy bits and hold the attention but keep the time to read down;
- then you can elaborate in the final section. It can also help, depending on how much copy you have, to break the elaboration down into sections with mini versions of a header/subject, into paragraph and details.
Bill then elaborated from the targeting side saying that segmentation definitely works in a big way and everyone should do it.
Even though we have read a lot on segmentation, not enough people do it. I think it’s mainly because people haven’t got enough data to segment with.
- Initially you don’t collect anything more than the first name and email address from the sign-up form to minimise barriers to entry on the list.
- You then only have email behaviour to go on: opening times, frequency or infrequency of interaction which is where ESPs come in. I know it is something that we at Pure360 have very high on our dev list to roll out on top of our data-mining FastStats integration
- Of course you can do little surveys with one or two questions just to help you profile them. You could even stick it at the bottom of a monthly newsletter to allow you to write more relevant content.
- One thing you may have, is the difference between customers and non-customers. It’s definitely worth give those two their own content.
Worth considering either way!
Bill briefly reflected on some of the press stating that email is dead with: “Email is not dead – it’s MIA”. Bill went on to state that this is because it is clearly not being measured properly. No-one is tracking traffic from email properly, some people were even logging email traffic to the web-site as miscellaneous! This kind of attitude is what is holding email back for many brands.
Mark then supported the point by explaining that email is a victim of it’s own success. An easy and cheap channel and that image has lost the industry’s respect. Because you don’t need to invest too much to get a good return, people don’t invest at all!
While we, in the industry try to turn it around – we need to get it to the upper management and get their buy in and let us get it right for them.
Additionally Mark said that a few year ago there was only ppc and email to drive traffic nut now there are so many ways people can be over whelmed with too many options and never achieve any quality – like multi-tasking.
In my experience Email Measurement gets left out because it is not viewed as new business but just an up-sell. Most marketing KPIs revolve around getting new business so that’s PPC and social.
Bill rightly added that it is the upper management’s disconnection from the process that is probably the problem: the chaps upstairs see something fairly cheap and straight forward making them consistent money so they just want to do it more, so that’s what they say and then deliverability becomes a problem.
Bill illustrated this with an example about one store that was targeted with collecting addresses, but could not hit the target so made them up and then had to stop sending because they had such bad data!
Jim than asked them both what we should be doing to better spread the word: Bill suggested that it is the main stream press that needs to voice it. Many of the upper management bods who make these decisions will read the main stream press and read about Google and Facebook and Twitter because they are latest thing. They won’t read, let a lone search for, email marketing specific content.
Mark continued by explaining that the people deeply into email, like our selves, are probably not sending the right message to upper management. They don’t care about open rates, they just see the money. We need to talk the right talk upwards.
Bill also suggested that the trade organisations them selves would be a good voice to bring it back, however they will need motivation to do so, what can we do.
Mark answered by suggesting that the problem could be the lack of sexy factor – email’s been around too long and it’s not sexy and dynamic like Social Media. Also ROI may not be the best metric to use. Email is most used and mentioned and there is so much data about it but not shouted about in the right places – because it is not sexy. When Jim asked Mark how we could make it more sexy Mark said that he might to be too much use, we British don’t really talk about that kind of thing J! Jim suggested that maybe he could take a lead from Benny Hill!
At that point, Bill came forward with the suggestion that the Ipad could be helping due to the improved experience of reading emails.
Mark agreed that if people were able to spend more time on elements other than rendering issues but more on how and what to say.
Bill then went to state that the old beautiful high graphic emails vanished due to images getting blocked due to spammers and virus protection targeted at windows – this apparently “ripped the guts out of email”. Now we have the ipad and iphone in the main stream, there is less of a worry and people are auto-loading these images. This could open the door for better graphics again.
Mark also warned that while bells and whistles can get attention, if there is no relevance once people get there, they won’t hang around!
Mean while in the chat room:
AndyT: Q: can HTML5 help with ‘shexy emails’ (dutch accent)
remybergsma: if supported, HTML5 would give email just the edge it so desperately needs
MHillyer: In what way Remy?
AndyT: pitty outlook is in the way remy
remybergsma: Andy – most definitely 😦
remybergsma: I’d kill off Outlook with a big red button if I could
remybergsma: especially 2007 and 2010
Finally Bill mentioned something that was also mentioned last week by Jeff. There is no longer any exclusivity on the list because the content is spread everywhere for maximum exposure. We see people doing twitter only offers but not for email anymore.
While last week I may have been critical about making a list exclusive, I can’t argue with the potential benefits of it and also I may not have been in the game long enough to really appreciate it. Pre-Facebook email marketers may be the key to bringing the exclusivity back to the list. All you have to do is decide if you care.
I like the idea that Bill suggested where and brand – I think it was Harley Davidson? – offered 6 emails in a row, one per day from the sign up.
The complication is while you want the email to be special you still need it on the web-site to click through to – or do you.
To make it exclusive would you put more content in the email and take the click through for the content out of the call to action. Instead, have email only content bringing more than one bit of content together and finish with linking through to each section for further elaboration?